The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Revelation


"The Legend of Korra" continues and I couldn't be more excited. After a brief glimpse at the Equalist movement and even briefer glimpse of Amon in the pilot, finally we get an entire episode devoted to them. While the overall plot was nothing that we haven't seen before, the execution was stellar.

The Equalist movement was terrifying. I'll be honest, as a "Gargoyles" fan, this is how I always hoped the Quarrymen would have been portrayed in Greg Weisman's third season, instead of the thugs r' us they became in "The Goliath Chronicles." While the brief glimpses we got of the Quarrymen in the comics were great, it didn't last long enough to really gauge where that story arc was going. But the Equalist movement is both terrifying and they have a point... which makes them even more terrifying.

Mako got quite a bit of growth here, moving beyond just criticizing Bolin and keeping his distance from Korra. While he does not hold the highest opinion of his brother, he does love him. The episode both tells us and shows us that he has protected Bolin since the two of them were kids, and he was the reason they survived after being orphaned. But, I will admit, when he mentioned that his parents were mugged and murdered by a Fire Bender in front of him when he was eight years old, the first question that popped into my head was "where is his bat-suit?"

Amon is a terrific villain so far. Supposedly, his parents were killed in front of him as a child too, and his face was burned off when his home was burned down... which is why he wears the mask. Personally, I doubt this story is true, and I think his face is probably fine. Still, the guy is a scary badass who can take on benders and, somehow, remove their bending. A feat Korra calls impossible, and Tenzin later said was only impossible for anyone except the Avatar. We've seen this before when Avatar Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai. How is Amon doing this anyway? Is he an energy bender? Or does he have other means.

But what I think is really brilliant about Amon is that he is a secular revolutionary in a world with an objectively true religion. He is basically lobotomizing people's spirituality. On that note, I can understand. I am an Agnostic, sometimes Atheist, myself... and even if it were proven to me that a deity or deities did exist, I would not worship them. But Amon is a villain, because while I do not follow a religion, I respect other people's rights to do so. Amon is imposing his brand of atheism on to others, and crippling them.

So, does anyone think Amon was going to let those benders go once the show was over? Or do you think he was going to kill them after he took away their bending?

Great episode. Looking forward to the next one.

EDIT: NEW THEORY! Aang had to learn to energy bend from a lion turtle... and Amon claimed he spoke to the spirits to learn this. Which spirit and why does he wear a mask? Koh the Face Stealer! If I'm right... you read it here first, I called it!

9 comments:

  1. When I was watching and Mako told his backstory and parents' fate, I did ask myself "so.... you're batman now?" -- glad to see I'm not the only one that had that sort of thought :)

    As for Amon, I think an important distinction is the way he said 'his family was taken from him' rather than killed. Now it may have just been a style of speaking (i.e he's not trying to depress his audience and use the word killed but still get the emotional appeal by speaking of his family being taken) but I get the impression that the truth (if the story is true) is more of the relationship sense rather than actually killed -- i.e. something happened in that confrontation that changed things and his relationship such that he was no longer a part of his family.

    When I heard him telling the story, for some reason I kept thinking of Zuko (burned face) and when he talked of removing bending, I kept thinking of Aang -- what a twist it would be if Amon was really Aang grown up and not dead (yet some how his avatar spirit still passed on to Korra which is why he himself can't bend anymore.. but he still has that similar fighting/evade style during combat)? Though the hole in that theory comes from Amon saying his family were not benders, and both Aang (I believe) and Zuko had benders in their family.

    Just me rambling, sorry. Anyway, it was definitely a great(!) episode though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice review as always, Greg. Though I would question characterizing Amon as an atheist since he claims to have been chosen by "the spirits" to purge the world of bending. Granted he could just be saying that to win converts to his cause and not really believe it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Personally, I'm of the opinion that Amon is either a personal student of Aang's, and/or his non-bending son Bumi. It would certainly fit the theme of one Avatar's mistakes being borne out by the next generation's, as displayed in "The Avatar and the Fire Lord."

    The Koh theory's been going around for a while and I find a lot of credibility in it. My own personal addition is that the eyes seen in close-ups of Amon's face are mechanical, to cover up the fact that he traded his face to Koh for this power.

    And why would Koh barter for what he could normally steal? Perhaps Amon's backstory isn't the total bunk I initially judged it as, and his face was too thoroughly scarred to even SHOW emotion. Which would make it an irresistably unique find for Koh's "collection."

    Now, to present-day Amon...the thing that really struck me, if he's really using what I've always liked to dub "Quintessencebending," is that he really fits your fondness for the "bigot that is what he/she hates" trope. A bender who wants to use his own, special type of bending - which no one else in the world possesses, making it the most "unequal" art in existence - to eliminate bending altogether.

    The question, then, is this: does Amon KNOW what he's doing is an ancient, near-forgotten bending art? If he merely a consummate liar to his followers, or deluding himself as well?

    I think the latter's a lot more interesting, but I guess we'll see. One thing's for sure: he's already got the potential to be the best villain produced in the Avatar-Verse, and THAT'S saying something.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Something too obivous: Amon really got ADVANCED with the chi blocking style.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think the main problem with the "Koh the Face Stealer" theory is that Amon still has his eyes, and it's been shown that Koh takes everything from your face. Plus, his talking implies he still has his mouth too. Hmm...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, c'mon, Greg, you're hardly the first one to suggest a relation to Koh! ;)

    Also, have you seen this website? It has plenty of interesting trivia and background information of the new series.

    http://www.nick.com/games/legend-of-korra-welcome-to-republic-city.html?xid=3KOR_AvFB

    ReplyDelete
  7. As much as I like the idea that Amon had his face stolen by Koh I think there's something else going on here.

    I think Amon was just putting on a good show for his followers. It's possible he was using another Chi-Blocking technique since there's nothing to prove he took away their bending permanently. All he had to do was kill the gangsters and no one would know.

    Amon is pretty smart as well. He doesn't snatch any old bender off the street, he goes for the criminals. Benders who people already hate and fear and use their bending to oppress people. Rather than a potential friend or family member of someone in the audience.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah, I've seen other forums discussing Koh as a player in the story. Even if not, I can't help but feel that an encounter between Korra and Koh is a possibility.

    By any chance, were you planning to do any reviews for ATLA: The Lost Adventures and The Promise (providing that you've read them)? And if yes on The Promise, are you planning a blog review soon or waiting until the next two volumes are out?

    ReplyDelete
  9. HA! I think I thought of the Koh theory before you! I was thinking of Koh's involvement the moment Amon said the line "and he took my face!"

    Plus, Koh did say to Aang "We'll meet again, Avatar" before he left. Meet again where? In the Avatar's next life!

    ReplyDelete